2015

A PARENT’S GUIDE:
ONTARIO’S
UPDATED
SEX-ED
CURRICULUM
Safe Sex, Contraception, and STI Prevention
in the Health & Physical Education Curriculum
For more information, or for a full version of
the updated curriculum, visit: www.edu.gov.on.ca

Introduction
Ontario has updated the sex-ed portion of
its Health and Physcial Education (H&PE)
curriculum for the first time in 17 years.
This guide will introduce parents to some
of the changes, specifically those that bear
on the instruction of contraception, safe
sex, and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Curriculum Quick Facts
•The curriculum emphasizes the role of parents, guardians, community and
religious leaders in teaching students about health, personal safety, and sexual
education.
•Sexual acts are only discussed in the context of health and safety, and only
when there is an age-specific need (beginning in Grade 7).
•Abstinence and contraception are both encouraged as ways to keep relationships healthy and safe.
•The curriculum aims to give students access to necessary information to allow
them to make thoughtful decisions.
•Ontario previously had the oldest sexual education curriculum in Canada (last
updated in 1998).

Quick Facts Continued
•Sex-ed (officially the Human Development and Sexual Health section) is just
one part of the new Health and Physical Education curriculum; it makes up only
10 per cent of the overall curriculum.
•There is a need for an updated curriculum that addresses the new challenges
of the internet age, and provides accurate information for students.
•Despite parents best wishes, many students already access information about
sex online; the purpose of this curriculum is to make sure the information that
students are getting is up-to-date, accurate, and facilitates good decision-making.

Curriculum Breakdown by Grade
Grade 7
Students first learn about contraception, safe sex, and STI prevention in Grade
7. The topics are taught within the context of a more general emphasis on
informed decision-making. Students are encouraged to consider the possible
consequences, for themselves and those around them, of making balanced decisions about sexual behaviour.
The use of contraception is discussed alongside other personal choices such as
abstaining from or delaying sexual behaviour. Various STIs are discussed; the
means by which they are contracted and their symptoms are described.

Grade 8
Though first introduced to students in Grade 6, consent is directly applied to
scenarios involving sexual behaviour in Grade 8. Students are asked to consider
the importance of expressing and establishing consent. Students are taught the
risks inherent in all sexual activity.
Contraception and STI prevention are emphasized as being necessary in
keeping sex safe. Those topics are discussed alongside the importance of open
communication with potential sexual partners, and a discussion of boundaries.

The Role of Parents
The updated sexual education curriculum is not intended to replace the role of
parents in educating their children about sexual health. Parents and guardians
are referred to throughout the curriculum, and are described as ideal sources of
support related to sexual health for students (as are health professionals, educators, and community and religious leaders).

This updated curriculum does not claim to provide students with all of the
answers, and should be viewed as supplementary to the education provided to
students by parents.

Discussion of Sexual Activities

Beginning in Grade 7, students learn about vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse,
and oral sex. These sexual activities are in no way encouraged by the curriculum. The goal of these discussions is to inform students about how to make the
best decisions for their physical and emotional health. Abstinence and delayed
sexual activity, as well as the use of contraception, are emphasized as the best
ways to keep sex safe and risk-free. Canada-wide studies have shown that 30
per cent of Grade 9 students have engaged in oral sex, and 50 per cent of
Grade 11 students. The purpose of the curriculum is to give students the information they need to make careful decisions ahead of time so that if or when
they decide to engage in these sexual activities they will be prepared to do so in
a safe and thoughtful way.

The Role of Abstinence and Delaying Sex
Abstinence and delayed sexual activity are discussed in the context of contraception and personal choice. The only way to remain completely risk-free is to
remain abstinent. Research on sexual education and its outcomes has consistently shown that an abstinence-only sex ed strategy is ineffective in preventing students from engaging in sexual behaviour. Students taught using such a
strategy are also less likely to follow proper safe sex protocol. Sex ed curricula
that discuss forms of contraception other than abstinence, however, are proven
to reduce the risk of students’ sexual behaviour.

Common Questions and Concerns
I don’t appreciate the government forcing me to have my children learn
about oral and anal sex.Why are those topics necessary?

The curriculum’s discussion of sexual acts is brief and focused. It is just one
piece of a sex-ed section, which is itself a small fraction of the overall H&PE
curriculum. Sexual acts are not mentioned until Grade 7. Approximately 30 per
cent of Canadian Grade 9 students have engaged in oral sex at least once; and
statistics also show that teenagers tend to have oral sex earlier in life before
having vaginal or anal intercourse. With those figures in mind, the curriculum is
addressing the safety of different sexual acts only two years before a significant
portion of students are becoming sexually active. And although these sexual
acts are being acknowledged, they are certainly not being encouraged.

It is my job as a parent, not that of the government, to teach my kids
about sex.

Teachers talking to students about sex is not a new aspect of the Ontario
curriculum. Across every province, sex-ed is an important aspect of health and
physical education. The new curriculum is not intended as an alternative to good
parenting. Rather, the best outcome for students would be one where parents
are supportive, open, and honest in teaching kids about sex, its benefits, harms,
and anything else. Sex and sexuality are also matters of public health and education. It is in the interest of the public to have an informed and conscious group
of young people who know the risks inherent in sexual activity, and who are
well-equipped to make smart decisions to maximize their own health and safety.

Questions and Concerns Continued
This curriculum was updated without my approval. I disagree with it and
don’t want my kids in class if it is being taught.What can I do?

A large amount of consultation went into the new curriculum. It is impossible
to consult every Ontario parent whenever any curriculum change is made.
Much more consultation went into this curriculum compared to, for example,
an updated curriculum in History or Mathematics. Parents have the right to
keep their kids at home. It is important, however, that parents first speak with
teachers so that they can get a better sense of what will be taught and when,
and how it will be taught by the teacher. The sex-ed portion of the new curriculum is small. Rather than keeping kids out of the classroom indefinitely, it would
be better if parents spoke with teachers so that they can know exactly when to
keep their kids at home, if there is a specific lesson or topic that parents do not
want their kids learning about.

To contact the government regarding the new
sex-ed curriculum, visit: www.ontario.ca/contact-us
For more information, visit:
www.ontario.ca/page/sex-education-ontario
For the full curriculum, visit:
www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health.html